The Steve Flack and Jill Player Cotton Duet “My Funny Valentine” – Tuesdays.

Id like to share with you the recording of a Rodgers & Hart classic song that I did with a singer, Jill Player Cotton, called “My Funny Valentine.

I always loved playing songs from the “Great American Songbook” so when I met Jill, who also loves those standard songs, we decided to get together every Tuesday morning and run through some songs and build a repertoire.

Hart the wordsmith and Rodgers the tunesmith.

We eventually recorded 10 standards on a CD which we called “Tuesdays”, because that’s when we’d rehearse, and “My Funny Valentine” was one of those standards that we recorded.

Jill, who comes from New York, has a pretty good knowledge of the Great American Songbook so it was a lot of fun.

We didn’t have drums, bass or any other instruments on the CD because we both really enjoyed the duo situation and I loved the freedom of being the whole band and sole accompanist.

It gave me a great opportunity to explore accompaniment playing behind a singer and there really is quite an art to it.

As a duo I particularly enjoy “Tuck & Patti” with Tuck Andres accompanying Patti’s vocals approaching his guitar playing like a pianist.

Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart both have interesting stories.

(Lorenz) Larry Hart

Larry Hart’s parents were German Jews who’d migrated to New York and raised the family in Harlem.

Interestingly, on his mother’s side, Hart was a great grandnephew of one of Germany’s greatest poets Heinrich Heine.

Heine is best known in the English speaking world through his lyrics being put to music by the great composers such as Schumann & Schubert.

Larry Hart then kept the family tradition going by writing the lyrics for some of the best known songs in the Great American Songbook.

Songs like Blue Moon, The Lady Is A Tramp, Manhattan, Bewitched, My Romance, Falling In Love With Love, Have You Met Miss Jones and My Funny Valentine.

All written with his songwriting partner Richard Rodgers for their 28 musicals which gave us over 500 songs.

Hart was a very short man. He claimed to be 5 foot which is around 152 cm but people that knew him said that he was even shorter than 5 foot!

He wanted to volunteer for the army during WW1 but was rejected for being too short which was humiliating for him, although that possibly saved his life.

He died at the age of 48 with his alcoholism possibly being a contributing factor yet he packed a lot of success into his short but productive life.

Lorenz Hart was introduced to the budding composer, Richard Rodgers, while at university and they would form a songwriting team that is the equal of the best.

Hart the wordsmith and Rodgers the tunesmith.

“My Funny Valentine” was originally written for the musical “Babes In Arms” but was soon picked up by Jazz musicians like Chet Baker and Miles Davis and later would be covered by singers like Elvis Costello, Linda Ronstadt, Rickie Lee Jones & Rod Stewart.

I really enjoyed improvising over the chord progression to “My Funny Valentine” and I feel the solo I did on this recording is one of my best.

I hope you enjoy it too.

Steve.

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